Brandis must answer questions on Tribunal appointment

All Australians should be extremely concerned about revelations this afternoon that George Brandis appointed an LNP donor and lawyer who represented his son in court to a senior role on the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) with a salary of $370,000 per year for the next five years.

THE HON MARK DREYFUS QC MP

SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL

SHADOW MINISTER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY

ACTING SHADOW MINISTER FOR JUSTICE

MEMBER FOR ISAACS

 

BRANDIS MUST ANSWER QUESTIONS ON TRIBUNAL APPOINTMENT 

All Australians should be extremely concerned about revelations this afternoon that George Brandis appointed an LNP donor and lawyer who represented his son in court to a senior role on the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) with a salary of $370,000 per year for the next five years.

There is a clear conflict of interest issue in this appointment. Either Senator Brandis was not aware of Mr Theo Tavoularis’s history when he appointed him to this prestigious role, or the decision was made in the knowledge of the personal connection with his son.

Senator Brandis must immediately answer the following:

  • Did he declare this conflict of interest issue to the Cabinet when the appointment was made?

  • Did he have any contact with Mr Tavoularis before, or after his appointment?

  • Was Senator Brandis aware that Mr Tavoularis was a donor to the Queensland Liberal National Party?

  • Did the Attorney-General’s Department recommend that Mr Tavoularis be appointed to the role, or was this appointment Senator Brandis’ idea?

As the first law officer of this country, Senator Brandis must not only act in accordance with the highest standards of accountability and probity; he must also be seen to act in accordance with those standards.

Sadly, this is only the most recent of many instances where Senator Brandis’s behaviour has diminished the office of Attorney-General. This includes his appalling attempts to limit the role of the Solicitor-General Justin Gleeson, the second law officer of Australia, and his shameful treatment of the President of the Human Rights Commission Gillian Triggs.

It is vital that the Attorney-General maintain the integrity and independence of tribunals for which he is responsible, and equally vital that the public have faith that their government is acting properly in the hundreds of prestigious and well-paid appointments it makes each year.

Senator Brandis must properly and fully account for his decision-making processes in the appointment of Mr Tavoularis to the AAT without delay.

THURSDAY, 8 SEPTEMBER 2016